Celtic v Rangers: 10 of the most dazzling, desperate and dogged Glasgow derby debuts in the past decade

A total of 11 players across the two combatants at Parkhead on Saturday could be given their first taste of Scottish football’s most storied encounter. As the below list demonstrates, it could go any way for the first-timers...

Friday, 16th October 2020, 7:00 am
Celtic's Moussa Dembele with the match ball in September 2016 after scoring the first hat-trick in a league derby for 51 years  (Pic: SNS, Sammy Turner)
Celtic's Moussa Dembele with the match ball in September 2016 after scoring the first hat-trick in a league derby for 51 years (Pic: SNS, Sammy Turner)

Moussa Dembele, Scottish Premiership, Celtic 5 Rangers 1, September 10, 2016

The ultimate first appearance in the fixture, the Frenchman netted the perfect hat-trick - right foot, left foot, header - to ensure a perfect first such contest for both the recently arrived striker and his manager Brendan Rodgers. The triple stands as the only netted in a league meeting between the pair across 54 years, Stevie Chalmers having bagged the previous one, in 1996.

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Philip Senderos, Scottish Premiership, Celtic 5 Rangers 1, September 10, 2016

Rangers' Andy Halliday in action with Scott Brown in his impressive derby debut that brought a penalty shoot-out victory in the 2016 Scottish Cup semi-final (Pic: SNS, Alan Harvey)

The Swiss international endured an afternoon the antithesis of the one enjoyed by Dembele. Featuring for the first time in Rangers colours following a two week trial, the 31-year-old had stated it was a “no brainer” to join such a big club. He then showed no brains as he was at fault for all of Celtic’s first three goals before leaving Mark Warburton’s bedraggled side against it for the final 15 minutes after he collected a second booking for a bonkers handball. No great surprise that he played only three more games for the Ibrox side.

Andy Halliday, Scottish Cup semi-final, Rangers 2 Celtic 2 (Rangers win 5-4 on pens), April 17, 2016

The midfielder may have become a figure of fun for Celtic supporters later in his Rangers career, but he had the first laugh at Hampden four-and-a-half years ago. The boyhood supporter of the Ibrox club revelled in the occasion. He proved the fulcrum as the Ibrox men - fresh from earning top tier promotion - passed their rivals off the park. To top that, he showed a nervelessness to take his team’s opening penalty of a first shoot-out in a major competition between the pair Rangers eventually edged.

Patrick Roberts, Scottish Cup semi-final, Rangers 2 Celtic 2 (Rangers win 5-4 on pens), April 17, 2016

Celtic's Christopher Jullien celebrates his teammate Jonny Hayes' goal as victory was assured in his derby debut in September, 2019, in Glasgow (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The on-loan Manchester City winger became so exasperated by countless reminders of what befell him in a semi-final that ushered in the end of Ronny Deila’s time he would groan “not again”, whenever it was raised. What did befall him was that the diminutive attacker contrived to miss an open goal from only a couple of yards out. An outrageous abberation pivotal in Celtic’s penalty shoot-out defeat that afternoon, he more than made amends by being a member of the club’s invincible treble squad the following season.

Jak Alnwick, Scottish Premiership, Celtic 5 Rangers 0, April 29, 2018

A keeper that concedes five goals against his club’s bitterest rivals on the afternoon they clinch an eighth consecutive title would ordinarily be thought to have had a horrible derby debut. Yet, the Englishman was adjudged to be Rangers’ best performer in the grimmest of circumstances. Indeed, it is doubtful that he ever made more goal-stopping saves across his 11 appearances for the Ibrox club. It may be that few Rangers followers will consider they owe him a debt for sparing them from a record defeat at Celtic hands. They do, though.

Odsonne Edouard, Scottish Premiership, Rangers 2 Celtic 3, March 11, 2018

Rangers Declan John is tackled by Scott Brown on the December 2017 afternoon he helped the Ibrox men to a first derby clean-sheet in 13 meetings with Celtic (Pic: SNS Group/Alan Harvey)

The only substitute debutant on our list, the Frenchman may only have entered the fray 67 minutes into a dramatic see-saw encounter at Ibrox two-and-a-half years ago. By jimminy, though, he made those minutes count for a visiting side then down to 10-men following Jozo Simunovic’s straight red card. Within 120 seconds of his arrival, he had grabbed what proved to be the winner, with the Ibrox men unable to live with his forcing, nimble power plays. Not for the last time…

El Hadji Diouf, Scottish Cup fifth round, Rangers 2 Celtic 2, February 6, 2011

The hugely controversial Blackburn Rovers loanee left an indelible mark on the derby fixture in Rangers colours. In his first appearance against Celtic since spitting on a home supporter playing for Liverpool during a UEFA Cup tie at Parkhead in 2003, he wound up Scott Brown so much with trash talk about his bank balance and renown, the Celtic captain’s equaliser sparked an outstretched-arm celebration in the Senegal international’s face that became known as the Broonie. The bad blood between the clubs then boiled over in the replay wherein the striker went utterly rogue, the over-the-top fall-out leading to a Scottish government summit.

Scott Sinclair, Scottish Premiership, Celtic 5 Rangers 1, September 10, 2016

Another Celtic player who achieved instant hero status in the derby environment of the 2015 ‘5-1 game’. As the Scottish champions dished out a doing to their ancient adversaries in the pair’s first league meeting subsequent to Rangers working their way up the leagues following liquidation of the oldco in 2012, the £4.5m signing from Aston Villa showed the occasion was to his liking with a goal and scintillating display. It was to prove the first of four strikes from him in derby meetings that season.

Declan John, Scottish Premiership, Celtic 0 Rangers 0, December 30, 2017

Many will have forgotten that Rangers ever had the left-back on loan from Cardiff City. The Welshman, though, was crucial to stopping the bleeding for the Ibrox side in the derby. No-one gave Graeme Murty’s men an earthly when they travelled across the city for the festive fixture, but he was rock solid in a defence that more than held firm to bring up Rangers’ first clean sheet in 13 face-offs with their fiercest foes.

Christopher Jullien, Scottish Premiership, Rangers 0 Celtic 2, September 1, 2019

Celtic were supposed to be lambs to the slaughter in the first derby of last season. Defensive woes had dogged them with the £7m signing from Toulouse cited as principal reason for their vulnerability. Instead, the Frenchman produced a towering display as Neil Lennon’s men snuffed out their bitter rivals.

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